Ecuadorean village rings in new year with devil dance

January 6, 2018
Dressed for the traditional New Year's festival known as "La Diablada", a participant strikes a pose in Pillaro, Ecuador, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. Thousands of singing and dancing devils take over the mountain town for six days of revelry in the streets. Local legend holds that anyone who adopts a costume for the celebration and wears it at the event six years in a row will have good luck. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Revelers in the Ecuadorean village of Pillaro are ringing in the new year with a unique Latin American tradition: Dancing through the streets wearing giant devil masks with protruding horns and angry grimaces.

Nearly a week of festivities concluded Saturday as locals paraded in costume to the sound of trumpets and saxophones. Some spend hundreds of dollars on intricately painted masks.

There are diverging stories on how the tradition began. Similar celebrations are held in countries including Mexico, Peru and Bolivia.

Organizer Maria Alvarez says that in Ecuador it likely started nearly a century ago when young men from outside villages vying for girls’ attention dressed as devils to hide their identity from angry relatives.

The festivities are said to grant blessings for the new year.